Showing posts with label crypto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crypto. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2024

The other shoe is about to drop in 2024 - important closure moments in the state of the world.

I want to pass on a clip (to which I have added some definitions in parentheses) from Venkatest Rao’s most recent Ribbonfarm Studio installment in which he argues that the other shoe is about to drop for many narratives in 2024, a year that feels much more exciting than 1984, 1994, 2004, or 2014.
With the Trump/Biden election, the other shoe is about to drop on the arc that began with the Great Weirding (radical global transformations that unfolded between 2016 and 2020). This arc has fuzzy beginnings and endings globally, but is clearly heading towards closure everywhere. For instance, the recent election in India, with its chastening message for the BJP, has a 10-year span (2014-24). In the EU and UK, various arcs that began with events in Greece/Italy and Brexit are headed towards some sort of natural closure.
Crypto and AI, two strands in my mediocre computing series (the other two being robotics and the metaverse), also seem to be at an other-shoe-drops phase. Crypto, after experiencing 4-5 boom-bust cycles since 2009, is finally facing a triple test of geopolitical significance, economic significance, and “product” potential (as in international agreement that “stable coins” as well as fiat currencies are valid vehicles for managing debt and commerce). It feels like in the next year or two we’ll learn if it’s a technology that’s going to make history or remain a sideshow. AI is shifting gears from a rapid and accelerating installation phase of increasing foundational capabilities to a deployment phase of productization, marked by Apple’s entry into the fray and a sense of impending saturation in the foundational capabilities.
Various wars (Gaza, Ukraine) and tensions (Taiwan) are starting to stress the Westphalian model of the nation state for real now. That’s the other shoe dropping on a 400-year-long story (also a 75 year long story about the rules-based international order, but that’s relatively less interesting).
Economically, we’re clearly decisively past the ZIRPy (Zero Interest Rate Policy) end of the neoliberal globalization era that began in the mid-80s. That shoe has already dropped. What new arc is starting is unclear — the first shoe of the new story hasn’t dropped yet. Something about nonzero interest rates in an uncertain world marked by a mercantilist resource-grabbing geopolitical race unfolding in parallel to slowly reconfiguring global trade patterns.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Managing the human herd

 This post is a dyspeptic random walk through thoughts triggered by the front page photograph of the Wall Street journal of June 17, 2024, showing Masses of pilgrims embarked on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Saudi Arabia under the soaring summer heat. Such enormous mobs of people are those most easily roused to strong emotions by charismatic speakers.

How are the emotions and behaviors of such enormous clans of humans be regulated in a sane and humane way? Can this be accomplished outside of authoritarian or oligarchical governance? Might such governance establish its control of the will and moods of millions through the unnoticed infiltration of AI into all aspects of their daily life (cf. Apple's recent AI announcements). Will the world come to be ruled by a "Book of Elon"? 

Or might we be moving into a world of decentralized everything? a bottom up emergence of consensus governance the from the mosh pit of web 3, cryptocurrencies and stablecoins? The noble sentiments of the Etherium Foundation/ notwithstanding, the examples we have to date of 'rules of the commons' are the chaos of Discord, Reddit, and other social media where the sentiments of idiots and experts jumble together in an impenetrable cacophony.  

Who or what is going to emerge to control this mess? How long will the "permaweird" persist?  


Monday, June 17, 2024

Empty innovation: What are we even doing?

I came across an interesting commentary by "Tante" on innovation, invention, and progress (or the lack thereof) in the constant churning, and rise and fall, of new ideas and products in the absence of questions like "Why are we doing this?" and "Who is profiting?". In spite of the speaker's arrogance and annoying style, I think it is worth a viewing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The world of decentralized everything.

Following up on my last post on the Summer of Protocols sessions, I want to pass on (again, to my future self, and possibly a few techie MindBlog readers) a few links to the world of decentralized grass roots everything - commerce, communications, finance, etc.  - trying to bypass the traditional powers and gate keepers in these areas by constructing distributed systems usually based on block chains and cryptocurrencies.  I am trying to learn more about this, taking things in small steps to avoid overload headaches... (One keeps stumbling on areas of world wide engagement of thousands of very intelligent minds.)

Here is a worthwhile read of the general idea from the Ethereum Foundation.

I've described getting into one decentralized context by setting up a Helium Mobile network hotspot, as well as my own private Helium Mobile Cellular account. To follow this up, I pass on a link in an email from Helium pointing to its participation in Consensus24 May 29-31 in Austin TX (where I now live) sponsored by CoinDesk.  At look at the agenda for that meeting gives you an impression of the multiple engagements of government regulatory agencies, business, and crypto-world that are occurring.

Monday, April 08, 2024

New protocols for uncertain times.

I want to point to a project launched by Venkatest Rao and others last year: “The Summer of Protocols.”  Some background for this project can be found in his essay “In Search of Hardness”.  Also,  “The Unreasonable Sufficiency of Protocols”  essay by Rao et al. is an excellent presentation of what protocols are about.  I strongly recommend that you read it if nothing else. 

Here is a description of the project: 

Over 18 weeks in Summer 2023, 33 researchers from diverse fields including architecture, law, game design, technology, media, art, and workplace safety engaged in collaborative speculation, discovery, design, invention, and creative production to explore protocols, boadly construed, from various angles.

Their findings, catalogued here in six modules, comprise a variety of textual and non-textual artifacts (including art works, game designs, and software), organized around a set of research themes: built environments, danger and safety, dense hypermedia, technical standards, web content addressability, authorship, swarms, protocol death, and (artificial) memory.
I have read through through Module One for 2003, and it is solid interesting deep dive stuff.  Module 2 is also available. Modules 3-6 are said to be 'coming soon’  (as of 4/4/24, four months into a year that has Summer of Protocols program 2024 already underway, with the deadline for proposals 4/12/24.)

Here is one clip from the “In Search of Hardness” essay:

…it’s only in the last 50 years or so, with the rise of communications technologies, especially the internet and container shipping, and the emergence of unprecedented planet-scale coordination problems like climate action, that protocols truly came into focus as first-class phenomena in our world; the sine qua non of modernity. The word itself is less than a couple of centuries old.

And it wasn’t until the invention of blockchains in 2009 that they truly came into their own as phenomena with their own unique technological and social characteristics, distinct from other things like machines, institutions, processes, or even algorithms.

Protocols are engineered hardness, and in that, they’re similar to other hard, enduring things, ranging from diamonds and monuments to high-inertia institutions and constitutions.

But modern protocols are more than that. They’re not just engineered hardness, they are programmable, intangible hardness. They are dynamic and evolvable. And we hope they are systematically ossifiable for durability. They are the built environment of digital modernity.”

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

MindBlog becomes a 5G cellular hotspot in the the low-priced ‘People’s Cell Phone Network’ - Helium Mobile

I am writing this post, as is frequently the case, for myself to be able to look up in the future, as well as for MindBlog techie readers who might stumble across it. It describes my setup of a G5 hotspot in the new Helium G5 Mobile network. A post following this one will describe my becoming a user of this new cell phone network by putting the Helium Mobile App on my iPhone using an eSIM.

This becomes my third post describing my involvement in the part of the crypto movement seeking to 'return power to the people.' It attempts to bypass the large corporations that are the current gate keepers and regulators of commerce and communications, and who are able to assert controls that are more in their own self interests and profits more than the public good. 

The two previous posts (here and here) describe my being seduced into crypto-world  by my son's having made a six hundred-fold return on investment by virtue of being one of the first cohort (during the "genesis" period) to put little black boxes and antennas on their window sills earning HNT (Helium blockchain tokens) using  LoRa 868 MHz antennas transmitting and receiving in the 'Internet of Things." I was a latecomer, and in the 22 months since June of 2022 have earned ~$200 on an investment of ~$500 of equipment. 

Helium next came up with the idea of setting up its own 5G cell phone network, called Helium Mobile. Individual Helium 5G Hotspots (small cell phone antennas) use Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) Radios to provide cellular coverage like that provided by telecom companies' more expensive networks of towers (CBRS is a wide broadcast 3.5Ghz band in the United States that does not require a spectrum license for use.)

In July of 2022, I decided to set up the Helium G5 hot spot equipment shown in the picture below to be in the genesis period for the establishment of this new Helium G5 cellular network.  I made my Abyssinian cat named Martin shown in front of the Bobber 500 miner the system administrator. The G5 antenna seen on the sill in the middle of window views ~170 degree of the southern sky. 

This system cost ~$2,500 and by early March 2024 has earned ~4.3 Million MOBILE tokens worth ~$18,000. As in a Ponzi scheme, most of the rewards are from the Genesis period, March 2024 earnings are ~ $45/week.  If this rate of earnings persists, this represents an annual ROI (return on investment)l of ~ 100%

The writing above is mine, and I decided just for the heck of it to recruit the assistance of several GPT engines (Google Gemini, Open AI ChatGPT-4, Anthropic Claude, and Microsoft Bing)  with the following prompt: 

Could you please act as Deric Bownds writing a post for his Blog, Deric’s MindBlog at Describe my setting up of a Helium G5 hot spot using the Bobber 500 miner with FreedomFi CBRS and an internal antenna during the genesis period for the establishment of the new Helium G5 cellular network. 

The responses of Gemini and Bing were excited, poetic, lyrical, overwrought hyperbole, very much in the spirit of the cyber-world pitches one sees online. ChatGPT-4 (the best response) and Claude did toss up some interesting paragraphs, and below I pass on some of ChatGPT-4's slightly edited and redundant text. I would be more sanguine about all of hype over 'democratic participation (or at least my participation)' if I had not been completely flummoxed by the cacophony of  the Helium Discord Discord Server, YouTube videos, and the complexity of the HIP (Helium Improvement Protocol) votes that ratify new changes and improvements to the system.  

The Helium Network, known for pioneering decentralized wireless infrastructure, has embarked on an ambitious journey to extend its reach into 5G, leveraging the power of blockchain technology to create a community-powered network. The initiative is ambitious, aiming to democratize cellular connectivity, making it more accessible and affordable. This endeavor is not just about technology; it's about reimagining the fabric of our digital society.
This genesis period of the Helium G5 network represented a fascinating intersection of technology, psychology, and community. The network's decentralized nature challenges traditional models of infrastructure ownership and control, proposing a more democratic and participatory framework. It prompts us to reflect on our relationship with technology: Are we mere consumers, or can we also be contributors and custodians of the digital landscapes we inhabit?
As more individuals and communities join this initiative, setting up their hotspots and expanding the network, a unique form of collective intelligence emerges. This network, powered by the people, for the people, embodies a new kind of digital ecosystem—one that values collaboration over competition, and shared success over isolated gains.
The implications for our cognitive landscapes are profound. By democratizing access to 5G connectivity, we are not just enhancing our ability to communicate; we are potentially altering the way we think, learn, and engage with the world around us. The Helium G5 network invites us to imagine a future where connectivity is as natural and essential as the air we breathe, a future where our digital and physical realities are seamlessly intertwined.
The technology we embrace today shapes the world we live in tomorrow. Through initiatives like the Helium G5 network, we have the opportunity to craft a digital environment that reflects our highest aspirations for society—one that is open, inclusive, and fundamentally human.
In this journey of connectivity, we are all contributors, shaping the digital ethos of our era. The genesis of the Helium G5 network is not just a technical milestone; it is a call to action, inviting us to rethink our role in the digital age and to contribute to a network that embodies our collective values and aspirations.

The next post describes my becoming a customer of the new Helium Mobile cellular service plan costing $20/month.


Monday, November 21, 2022

MindBlog in Crypto-Land Part II - Is the crypto industry headed for oblivion?

In late spring of this year, I was seduced by my son's having made a six hundred-fold return on an investment by virtue of being one of the first cohort to stick little black boxs (Helium miners costing ~$1,000) on their window sills earning HNT (Helium blockchain tokens) for transmitting and receiving signals in an 'Internet of Things" that piggybacks on existing wireless systems of cell towers and cable providers. I decided to take a sip of the koolaid and set up two Helium miners which to date have earned ~ $10 for a 0.01 % return on investment! Fortunately I decided not actually own a significant amount of any of the cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin or Etherium, and didn't face financial damage of the sort mentioned below.  I persist in liking the idea that block chain ledgers and their associated cryptocurrencies offer the promise of being a monetary system that doesn't require trust in financial institutions that are potentially intrusive or corruptible.

Krugman does not agree, and has issued his latest screed against the whole crypto context in a NYTimes Op-Ed occasioned by the recent implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried and his cryptocurrency exchange FTX:

Crypto reached its peak of public prominence last year, when Matt Damon’s “Fortune favors the brave” commercial — sponsored by the Singapore-based exchange — first aired...people who bought after watching the Damon ad have lost more than 70 percent of their investment.,,falling prices needn’t mean that cryptocurrencies are doomed...More telling than prices has been the collapse of crypto institutions...Most recently, FTX, one of the biggest crypto exchanges, filed for bankruptcy — and it appears that the people running it simply made off with billions of depositors’ dollars, probably using the funds in a failed effort to prop up Alameda Research, its sister firm.
After 14 years, however, cryptocurrencies have made almost no inroads into the traditional role of money. They’re too awkward to use for ordinary transactions...[they] are largely purchased through exchanges like Coinbase and, yes, FTX, which take your money and hold crypto tokens in your name...These exchanges are — wait for it — financial institutions, whose ability to attract investors depends on — wait for it again — those investors’ trust. In other words, the crypto ecosystem has basically evolved into exactly what it was supposed to replace: a system of financial intermediaries whose ability to operate depends on their perceived trustworthiness.
But if the government finally moves in to regulate crypto firms, which would, among other things, prevent them from promising impossible-to-deliver returns, it’s hard to see what advantage these firms would have over ordinary banks. Even if the value of Bitcoin doesn’t go to zero (which it still might), there’s a strong case that the crypto industry, which loomed so large just a few months ago, is headed for oblivion.

Monday, June 20, 2022

MindBlog in Crypto-Land

Unless you have been hiding in a cave (not a bad place to be these days) you have doubtless been following the current crash of the stock market and the even more dramatic implosion of the cryptocurrency bubble.  From dizzying highs (see The New Get-Rich-Faster Job in Silicon Valley: Crypto Start-Ups) the values of BitCoin, Etherium and other cryptocurrencies have cratered, while critiques of the blockchains and cryptocurrencies have become more numerous (see How ‘Trustless’ Is Bitcoin, Really?Crypto, Houses, Sneakers, Rolexes: How FOMO Drove the EconomyFrom the Big Short to the Big Scam (Krugman)Why bitcoin is worse than a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme.

In this post I’ve decided to pass on a chronicle of my own experience with crypto-world to date - so I know where I can look it up later,  and also as a basis for passing on any further entanglements or results.  [MindBlog has taken a similar tack in reporting its (generally unsuccessful) experiments with dietary supplements meant to enhance our vitality or longevity.]

In early 2021 my techie son (an eCommerce website developer) decided to gamble $1,000 by purchasing two Helium Miners (hotspots) whose antennas connected them to a Helium ‘People’s Network’ - a decentralized wireless infrastructure powered by the Helium Blockchain for use by the IoT  (“Internet of Things” - thermostats, water and gas meters, scooter rentals, etc.).  These miners started generating ‘HNT’ tokens, the Helium cryptocurrency. Tokens valued at over $600,000 soon accumulated, and he cashed out $100,000 of this… for a thousand-fold return on investment! 

I read the hype, drank the kool aid, decided to follow in his footsteps, and put in a bit of ‘mad money’ I was willing to loose...  Here is the Rake’s Progress:

At the end on Nov. 2021 I set up a Coinbase account linked to my real world bank account, bought $1000 of USCD ‘stable coins’ and used them on Dec. 9 to pay for two Bobcat 300 Helium Miners (the step up and down on the left in the Coinbase App screenshot below.)  Then I decided to speculate a bit, and on Dec. 31 bought $1000 of Ethereum (ETH coins), now worth $280.99 (shown by the jagged downward line on the screenshot taken June 18).  Perfect timing!

The Bobcat 300 miners were ordered on Dec. 9….. then came a series of emails describing factory closings in China,  Covid shutdowns, supply chain blockages,  etc….  They finally arrived on June 9 (which seems light years later in cyber-world time) and are being set up now.


AND, by now they are being overshined by the appearance of the latest shiny new toy,  the Bobcat 500 (5G) miner, which with a CBRS (Citizens Broadcast Radio Service) operating "Cell" on the 5G cellular network can earn cryptocurrency by providing 5G cellular coverage.  So, naturally I’ve just bought one of these (with “delivery in 4-8 weeks”....we've been there before, see above).  Here are its claims to be a  big deal…

The current Bobcat 300 miners, just about to be setup, will still be grinding away, hopefully earning some HNT,  but their IoT niche is now depicted as occupying 1.2% of this glorious new world.

To be continued.....